Over the past several months, American audiences have witnessed Anna Netrebko’s signature portrayal of Mimì in Robert Dornhelm’s feature film version of Puccini’s La bohème. The movie was released in theaters in September, shown as part of PBS’s “Great Performances” series in December, and recently released on DVD. Now the Russian soprano takes the role to the stage for her first run of performances in the Met’s iconic Franco Zeffirelli production of the opera, opening February 20. In April, shortly after Netrebko’s final appearance in the production, Deutsche Grammophon releases the versatile singer’s new feature recording, a live recital album titled In the Still of Night, made with acclaimed pianist Daniel Barenboim at the Salzburg Festival in August 2009. With this disc, her first piano-vocal recording, the Russian soprano focuses on two of her homeland’s principal exponents of art song, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky.
While many of the works featured on In the Still of Night are still relatively unknown in the Western world, the recording is a natural follow-up to Netrebko’s Grammy-nominated Russian Album (2007), which features highlights and rarities from the Russian operatic and orchestral song repertoire. In its review of the live recital at the Salzburg Festival on August 17, 2009, the Süddeutsche Zeitung observed: “At the end, the entire audience in the Grosses Festspielhaus was on its feet, showering ovations on the singer… . What a wonderful concert!” Die Welt also praised the performance, noting the “fullness and melting warmth of Anna Netrebko’s soprano and the artistry in her phrasing.” Musical America’s George Loomis, who was also on hand to review the concert, wrote: “It was a pleasure to encounter the star soprano in Russian repertoire, especially with so accomplished a partner, with whom she had a fine rapport. This was, incredibly, the first recital of her professional career, but the lovely voice takes very well to the song repertoire... . Netrebko’s ability to project the essence of a song resulted in much to enjoy.”
Netrebko will reprise the Salzburg Festival recital program, first on March 23, with Daniel Barenboim’s wife, pianist Elena Bashkirova, in Moscow, next on March 26 in St. Petersburg, and then with Barenboim himself at the Berlin State Opera on March 29.
Back on the opera stage, Anna Netrebko will return to the Vienna State Opera in April to portray a quartet of favorite opera characters – Mimì in La bohème, Elvira in I puritani, the title role in Manon, and Micaela in Carmen – over a period of just six weeks. She will end the season performing in a new production of Massenet’s Manon at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.